The I Ching, Yi JIng or The Book of Changes is unquestionably one of the most important books in the world’s literature. The I Ching has been part of my world since I was 21.
I have studied the I Ching with Master Joseph Yu briefly. I was initially referred to Master Yu by a friend when I was looking for a Feng Shui consultant. He did a Feng Shui consultation for me at my home in Toronto. Some years later I began to study with him.
The I Ching is a very ancient book. It existed more than two thousand years before Confucius (ca. 551–479 B.C.).
The origin of the I Ching goes back to mythical antiquity, and it has occupied the attention of the most eminent scholars of China down to the present day.
It was used, and still is used, mainly as divination means, that is, a device to predict future events.
Nearly all that is greatest and most significant in the three thousand years of Chinese cultural history has either taken its inspiration from this book, or has exerted an influence on the interpretation of its text. Therefore it may safely be said that the seasoned wisdom of thousands of years has gone into the making of the I Ching.
Small wonder then that both of the two branches of Chinese philosophy, Confucianism and Taoism, have their common roots here.
The book sheds new light on many a secret hidden in the often puzzling modes of thought of that mysterious sage, Lao-tse, and of his pupils, as well as on many ideas that appear in the Confucian tradition as axioms, accepted without further examination.
Structure of the I Ching
The book is a collection of 64 short essays. Each essay is assigned to 64 figures called hexagrams. Each hexagram is composed of two trigrams – a lower and an upper.
The trigram, the basic unit of the I-ching, is made of 3 lines that can be continuous (_____) or broken (__ __), meaning yang or yin.
Thus, we have 8 possible trigrams, called pa-kua. Traditionally, the pa-kua are the work of the mythical forefather Fu Hsi, the one who invented the I-ching.
Each hexagram corresponds to a specific life situation, therefore when we consult the Book as oracle it leads us to a more or less personal event which may or may not further develop in time.
I think that the following written by I Ching – Brian Browne Walker nicely captures for the western mind the essence of the I Ching. The version by Brian Browne Walker is considered by many to be the most elegant, distilled version of the I Ching available.:
On its surface, the I Ching is merely a book. It is a very old book — one that has survived for thousands and thousands of years in many different forms — but it is just a book. It is also a very wise book — it is regarded as the foundation text of Chinese wisdom and philosophy, and was instrumental to sages such as Confucius, whose education and teachings were formed by it — but it is just a book.
Beneath the surface, however, the Book of Changes is more than just a book. It is a living, breathing oracle, a patient and all-seeing teacher who can be relied upon for flawless advice at every turning point in our lives. Those who approach the I Ching sincerely, consult it regularly, and embody in their lives the lessons it teaches inevitably experience the greatest riches that life has to offer: prosperity, understanding, and peace of mind.
The Book of Changes speaks to us not in abstract platitudes but with direct advice about what to do now, in this situation, to bring about our own success and good fortune. It is for this reason that it is so dynamically alive today, thousands of years and thousands of miles from its place of origin.
by James T. McCay
with Richard E. Ward
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